Rural Food Security

Rural Food Security

Nutrition (or Food) security is defined by the USDA as consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, affordable foods essential to an individual’s overall health and well-being. Individuals who live in rural communities in Central Oregon experience lower rates of nutrition security due to socioeconomic disparities such as poverty, low wages, high cost of living, and limited access to health and social services.

HDFFA, in collaboration with Crook County Public Health and the Central Oregon Health Council, bring community members together to provide both personal and professional experience with nutrition security and health services. Our team consists of over 20 individuals that represent four regions.

  • Prineville
  • Madras, Metolius and Culver
  • South Deschutes County
  • North Klamath County

Social Determinants of Health

The conditions in which we are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age – known as social determinants of health (SDOH) – have a profound impact on health. They influence our opportunities to practice healthy behaviors and enhance or limit our ability to live healthy lives.  Differences in SDOH contribute to long-term chronic diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, all of which are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. (CDC).  This is why we offer VeggieRx – a fresh produce prescription program.

Supporting Rural Central Oregon

In 2021, Crook County, HDFFA and COHC were one of 10 organizations across the U.S. funded by the CDC to develop action plans to prevent and reduce chronic diseases among people experiencing health disparities and inequities.  We first identified the seven most food insecure communities, developed partnerships with individual and organizational members in each community, and developed coalitions.

Each coalition created an action plan specific to the needs and interests of their community. Below are the goals that each group is working to implement in their region in the next two to five years. Each goal falls within food and nutrition-based strategies that are shared across each community group:

  • Strategy 1: Increase coordination of resources to improve distribution and access to nutritious food
  • Strategy 2: Increase educational programs and outreach

The following shared strategies were identified across each community, and therefore will be implemented as part of a regional plan.

  • Strategy 1: Support multi sector coalitions for each of the five communities
  • Strategy 2: Increase coordination between health care providers and community-based organizations
  • Strategy 3: Increase advocacy among community members


Emily Ralston
Rural Food Security Coordinator

Food Security Infographic, click on the image to learn more.

Community Work Groups


  1. Support and expand mobile and weekend food pantries as well as senior meal-delivery programs to houseless and housebound individuals in rural areas
  2. Increase awareness of resources, including Fresh Harvest Kits, sliding scale CSA shares and WIC Farm Direct Vouchers
  3. Support local local food production and distribution including the CROP farmers market
  4. Support school-based and other family services
  5. Provide opportunities to learn about local food resources, nutrition, meal preparation, and gardening


  1. Support community meal sites and increase use of locally-sourced produce in emergency food programs
  2. Expand community and school garden sites
  3. Increase use of VeggieRx and other vegetable and fruit prescription programs at La Pine Community Health Clinic
  4. Increase outreach and access to local farmers market and food pantries
  5. Increase food delivery to seniors, houseless, and housebound individuals


    1. Expand and support food pantry services, summer food programs, and food delivery services
    2. Expand reach of Meals on Wheels program and offer transportation to food pantry services
    3. Promote community gardens
    4. Create and distribute informational resources to share food services and recipes
    5. Collaborate with other sectors and organizations


    1. Increase coordination between schools and communities for use of greenhouses and gardens
    2. Organize and sustain a local farmers market held in community spaces
    3. Provide food that is accessible to all populations, increase awareness and advocacy around water shortages and dry wells
    4. Implement fruit and vegetable prescription programs and vouchers for farmers markets and food pantries
    5. Partner with Master Gardeners program to increase gardening education and provide seed kits and resources

    What’s Next?

    The Central Oregon Health Council’s Community Advisory Council (COHC-CAC) has funded Crook County and HDFFA to continue our work with community leaders.  We will provide a dedicated HDFFA staff member to provide capacity support to each community to implement their plans.  We are a resource and connector for communities as they form these coalitions within their region of Central Oregon.

    Funded By:

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